New Hampshire (NH) Asbestos Removal & Abatement Resources:

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services describes asbestos as "a group of naturally occurring mineral fibers that are known for their high tensile strength and thermal insulating properties" (1).  Because of these properties, asbestos used to be a common additive to building materials, as it helped to make homes and business stronger, better insulated, and fire-resistant (1).  While the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services lists over 40 materials that could potentially contain asbestos, the most common asbestos-containing materials are heating system insulation, vinyl floor and tiles and sheet flooring, roofing paper and shingles, and cement siding shingles (1).  Unfortunately, it has since been discovered that when asbestos-containing material is disturbed, the asbestos can break down into microscopic fibers that can become airborne (1).  Once the fibers are in the air, they can be inhaled, where the fibers become trapped in the lungs, which can develop over time into asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.  All of these are serious diseases that could be fatal (1). 

While asbestos-containing material in good condition does not pose an immediate health risk, it begins to deteriorate, or it will be part of a renovation or demolition, then it must be removed (1).  Since The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services identifies renovation or demolition activities as the greatest potential for exposure to asbestos fibers, building owners and contractors must follow strict procedures during renovation and demolition projects and all other times when asbestos must be handled (1).  Although it is legal in New Hampshire for homeowners of single-family homes to perform asbestos abatement themselves unless they plan to sell their homes within six months, the Department of Environmental Services recommends using licensed abatement contractors for asbestos-related projects (1).  These professionals are highly trained in the rules and regulations that control the emission of asbestos, and they have the knowledge and experience needed to keep themselves, other workers, the public, and the environment safe.

Asbestos Professionals

In order to be hired to perform an asbestos related activity in New Hampshire, a worker must be licensed in that particular area (4).  In order to receive certification, all workers must attended courses from an approved training provider (4).  Because of the health hazards associated with asbestos exposure, all training courses must meet strict criteria in order to adequately train asbestos workers.  Courses of instruction must be specific to each of the disciplines of asbestos workers and professionals, including asbestos abatement workers, asbestos abatement contractors, asbestos abatement supervisors, asbestos inspectors, asbestos management planners, and asbestos abatement project designers (4). The content must be presented through a combination of lectures, demonstrations, and hand-on practice, and the student instructor ratio may not exceed ten to one (4).  At the end of the courses, each student must prove their mastery of the content by achieving a score of at least 70 percent on a written examination (4).  Even once the applicants receive their licenses, they must attend annual refresher courses, as licenses expire every year (4).  This keeps all workers knowledgeable of the most current work practices and safety equipment. 

Abatement procedures

In order to ensure that public health is protected, New Hampshire has regulations set forth to make certain that asbestos is handled in a way that minimizes the release of asbestos fibers into the air, where humans can be exposed to them (4).  The rules that New Hampshire has established are used in conjunction with other federal, state, and local requirements, including those established by the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (4).  Since the indoor occupational exposure standard is .1 fibers longer than 5 microns per cubic centimeter, regulations control emissions are quite strict (4).

The regulations written by the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants are all set forth to minimize the amount of asbestos fibers that become airborne during removal, transportation, and disposal (3).  For example, all asbestos-containing material that is to be handled must be adequately wetted and remain thoroughly wetted until they are contained in leak-tight containers that are labeled "DANGER. CONTAINS ASBESTOS FIBERS.  AVOID CREATING DUST.  CANCER AND LUNG DISEASE HAZARD" (3).  Wetting must be completed by spraying it with a wetting agent that is usually water to which surfactant chemicals have been added (3).  There are even specific wetting procedures used to different kinds of asbestos-containing material (3). The wetting process is only one of the requirements that must be followed when handling asbestos.  There are many more equally specific regulations in all aspects of asbestos inspection, planning, removal, air monitoring, site preparation, safety equipment and gear, medical monitoring, and a variety of other areas (3).  It is for this reason that all work completed on a regulated facility must be handled by professionals who have undergone training.  Since most individuals are not aware of the entirety of these regulations, while it is legal for single unit homeowners to complete their own abatement, it is certainly not recommended.

Asbestos Waste Disposal Practices

Once abatement is complete, the waste generated by the abatement must be properly disposed of.  To properly dispose of waste, the contractor must make arrangements with an approved landfill to begin the paperwork process (2).  Landfills in New Hampshire notice at least 24 hours before the asbestos waste is brought in (2).  At the landfill, workers must prepare a separate trench for asbestos waste, and they must be able to cover the trench with soil without disturbing the asbestos waste containers (2).  When landfill personnel handle the asbestos, they must wear head, body, and foot coverings and use air-purifying, dual cartridge respirators to avoid contamination and exposure to airborne asbestos fibers (2). Once the asbestos is in the trench, it must be immediately covered with three feet of solid waste of 18 inches of soil (2).  This keeps the environment free from potentially dangerous asbestos fibers and workers free from exposure.

Because of its dangerous qualities, the abatement of asbestos is highly regulated by federal, state, and local agencies.  All of these regulations are set in place to keep workers, the public, and the environment safe by controlling the emission of asbestos fibers into the air.  New Hampshire offers training programs to those who wish to work with asbestos, and no individual can be hired to legally handle asbestos without this rigorous training.  Fortunately, there are many training facilities in New Hampshire that license many asbestos professionals every year, so trained professionals are in no short supply.  Before all potential disruption of asbestos, especially renovation and demolition projects, contact an asbestos contractor to inspect for asbestos and ensure that all laws regarding abatement procedures are followed.

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